Our favorite Mass Effect: Andromeda character builds

Mass Effect: Andromeda’s skill system can be a bit daunting at first. There are three categories of skills, and you can spend points on anything you want from the get go. Some skills ‘prime’ combos while others ‘detonate’ them. And you’re encouraged to focus on one category, because each contains a passive ability which buffs that category’s abilities.

But you really don’t have to be all biotic or all tech, and I don’t necessarily recommend it. Any ability that detonates a combo can be used in tandem with any ability that primes a combo, regardless of their categories. You can use Incinerate, a tech ability, to set a Kett grunt on fire, and then a biotic Charge to blow it up, for instance. It’s fun to mix and match, and one of Andromeda’s best features (amid some not great ones) is that you’re free to experiment with combat styles, and even swap between them in the middle of fights.

To start, put a single point into all the abilities you want to try. If you end up not liking one, you can reclaim your points later for a small deposit of credits in the Tempest’s medbay, so it’s not a big deal. (Something I only learned after someone told me!) Once you’ve found abilities you like, switch your focus to Combat Fitness and weapon skills to start buffing your health, shields, and damage output. And as I said, each category contains passive abilities which are worth dropping points into if you find you’re using one category more than the others.

Experimenting with skill combos is, again, one of my favorite parts of the game. But if you want to avoid wasting skill points and re-specing, at least at first when you don’t have many to spare, James and I have put together four builds that we’ve enjoyed during our hundred-something combined hours of play.                             

Close-quarters

Profile: Vanguard
Abilities: Incinerate, Charge, Nova
Also invest points in: Pistols or Assault Rifles, Shotguns, Combat Fitness, Offensive Biotics

This is my favorite setup because it’s full of movement. Use Incinerate from a distance to prime an enemy for a combo explosion, then detonate it with Charge, which also near-instantly teleports you into the fray. Finish off nearby enemies with your melee weapon and shotgun, and if you get into trouble, drop Nova and use your jetpack dash to zip out.

Complement the build with armor that buffs biotics and max shields (the N7 armor’s not a bad choice). Focus research on shotguns, but don’t forget that you can also build more effective (and cooler) melee weapons. Keep a pistol or assault rifle with you, too, for instances when you need to keep your distance, but don’t go over the weight limit if you can help it. You want the Charge ability to be available often, because it’s a good way to escape if you’re taking a beating—just point it at a weak enemy who’s taken cover away from the action.

Assault tank

Profile: Soldier or Sentinel
Abilities: Turbocharge, Flamethrower, Energy Drain
Also invest points in: All weapon types, Combat Fitness, Team Support, Offensive Tech

If you want to focus on weaponry more than abilities, you can buff your health and shields at the same time and become a tanky assault class. Learn the first two tiers of Combat Fitness and your max health and shields increase with every subsequent point you spend on combat skills. So, after that, go nuts with weapon training. And if you get Combat Fitness to level 5, you can carry two extra weapons and worry less about weight.

As for abilities, I’ve thrown in Turbocharge, which briefly buffs your guns, Energy Drain to steal enemy shields, and Flamethrower to help with crowd control—plus it looks cool. You might try out some of the combat abilities, too, if grenades are more your style, but it’s really the weakest category when it comes to attack abilities. Also spend some points in Team Support, a passive tech skill that increases your whole squad’s max shields.

Sniper

Profile: Infiltrator
Abilities: Tactical Cloak, Singularity, Assault Turret
Also invest points in: Sniper Rifles, Pistols, Combat Fitness, Containment, Auxiliary Systems

Your standard glass cannon sniper is easy enough to build. Singularity creates a mass effect field that makes enemies float, so use it to create easy targets for headshots. The other two abilities can be swapped for whatever you like, but I enjoy combining Tactical Cloak’s stealth with a bit of engineering in Assault Turret, which helps keep nearby enemies at bay. Alternatively, you could go with all biotic powers, using Pull with Throw or Lance to combo (also see the Space Wizard build below if that’s your style).

Obviously, invest most of your research into sniper rifles—the N7 Valiant Sniper Rifle is a nice one—and fun augmentations to go with them. Keep a nice pistol on hand for when you need to go ammo hunting, too.

Space wizard

Profile: Adept
Abilities: Pull, Throw, Singularity
Also invest points in: Barrier, Offensive Biotics, Containment, Rifles, Combat Fitness

If you’re all about using space magic to toss enemies around the arena, invest heavily into Biotics. Pull can be upgraded to string in and prime multiple enemies at once, while Throw acts as a detonator or just a fun way to fling enemies into acid. Singularity is nice for priming and sweeping up the grunts of the litter while you make a getaway or wait for Throw to recharge, but the final Space Wizard ability can easily be exchanged for whatever you like.

Backlash is nice if you don’t have the best weapons as if reflects gunfire back at enemies, but be sure to invest points into a weapon branch of your choosing. Assault rifles are an easy go-to, as they work at most ranges. Even if they’re not your primary damage-dealer, they’re good for chipping away at shields to make enemies vulnerable to biotics. They’ll also come in handy with armored enemies, who aren’t affected by the physics of biotic powers.